Here Are The Best Books To Give For Mother’s Day This Year

Mother's Day is looming ever larger, which means most of us are scrambling to figure out something to get our mothers; you know, that one special thing that will make up for the fact that — unless we live with them — we will probably not get to see them any time soon. May I suggest that the perfect gift for your mother or mother-figure might just be a book? Not just any book, of course, but one that signifies to your mother that even if you can't really understand all that she did for you as you grew up, you still appreciate it, and you value her completely.

The following books say all those things — and more. They not only present motherhood in all its complex glory, but also childhood, offering different perspectives on all the many ways there are to be a mother and a child. They're the perfect gift for Mother's Day, and not a bad present to give yourself as well — because, hey, maybe you and your mom can read one together, and form a book club of two.

Rerun Era by Joanna Howard (available here)

This wickedly funny, thoroughly entrancing memoir is ideal for any mom who was herself raised during the '70s, and spent long days in front of the TV — or maybe that's how she raised you? Either way, Joanna Howard's pitch perfect depiction of pop culture's influence on our childhoods, and the ways in which we learned to navigate between real life and what we saw on the small screen, feels like an essential read, a spot-on rendition of both the bizarre and mundane aspects of domestic life.
The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling (available here)

As any mother will tell you, one of the most prominent parts of parenting is the tedium. Like, seriously, who knew the high stakes business of keeping someone else alive could often be so boring? It's the rare book, though, that captures both the crushing banality and the overwhelming moments of pure bliss that come with mothering a small child. The Golden State follows Daphne, mother to toddler, Honey, as she departs San Francisco for Northern California's high desert, isolating herself, drinking too much, trying to make sense of the world, and figuring out how to move forward even as the ground never seems to stand quite still beneath her feet.
The Need by Helen Phillips (available here)

I don't know that there's any other novel that better captures the science fiction, body horror aspect of new motherhood as much as The Need. The novel has the makings of a classic thriller: When Molly — a paleobotanist who's home alone with her two young children while her husband travels for work — hears a sound in her home, her fight-or-flight instinct kicks in and she goes to investigate, wholly unprepared or what she's about to find. I won't say any more about this stunning, original work, but I will say that Helen Phillips uses precise, visceral prose to reflect with eerie accuracy the split consciousness of motherhood. What's not to love?
The Mothers by Brit Bennett (available here)

In preparation for Brit Bennett's forthcoming second novel, The Vanishing Half, coming out this June, your mother will definitely want to read her powerful debut, an intimate, absorbing exploration of womanhood, love, mourning, friendship, and the bonds that keep us together, even as secrets threaten to tear us apart. Centering around Nadia — who is just a teenager when she loses her mother to suicide — and the difficult choice she has to make when she becomes pregnant at a young age, The Mothers is profound and provocative in its ability to interrogate the many unexpected ways our youthful decisions define our futures.
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (available here)

Some books just seem as though they have a pulse, you can feel the blood beating as you turn every page. Such is the case with Ocean Vuong's haunting, lyrical debut novel, which takes the form of a letter written from a son to his mother — despite the fact that she can not read. This is a book about trauma — the trauma of war and immigration and mental illness; the trauma of inheritance. But it is also a book filled with painful, often perverse beauty, a reminder of the way our familial legacies shape us before we're even born.
Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould (available here)

When I interviewed Emily Gould about Perfect Tunes, she told me that one of her main preoccupations when writing this novel was: "What if you could know who your mom was before she was the person who was transformed into your mom?" Of course, the answer to this question will always (barring advances in time-travel) be elusive, so your best bet is to get this book for your mom as a way of letting her know that you understand that she existed before you were ever in the picture. Perfect Tunes is the story of Laura, who moves to New York City to be a musician, and gets sidetracked by life — literally, in that she gives birth to it, in the form of Marie. Follow along as Laura and Marie grow up together, and Laura reconciles her idea of who she always wanted to be with who she has actually become.
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby (available here)

Hands down, Samantha Irby is one of the funniest writers working today, and because you want to give your mother the gift of laughter (you do want to do that, don't you?), you should definitely give her this book, which will have her laughing and crying and thanking you more sincerely for a present than she's ever done in her life. As with her other essay collections, Irby doesn't hold back as she explores everything from her new life in a small Midwestern town to why she still hides past-due bills under her pillow to how she learns to relate to her stepchildren. Speaking of which, this is not just a perfect gift for a mother, but also for a stepmother, a way to say to her, "wow, thank you."
Little Gods by Meng Jin (available here)

This stunning, lyrical debut marks Meng Jin as a literary force, and offers readers an opportunity to explore the intricate ways that grief, identity, sacrifice, and love all weave together to create a bond between mother and daughter, a bond that stands the test of time. Su Lan gives birth to her daughter in a Beijing hospital; 17 years later, that daughter, Liya, who has grown up in America, must take the ashes of her mother back to China. Once there, she starts to understand more about who her mother was before she became a mother, and who she never had the chance to be.
Stay and Fight by Madeline ffitch (available here)

If your mother is the type to be romanticizing what it's like to be quarantined in the woods right now, living off the land, and embodying a truly anti-materialistic life, well, then, this is the book for her. Madeline ffitch's electric debut is set in Appalachian America, and focuses on an ad hoc family comprised of loner Helen; Lily and Karen, a couple who have recently been kicked off their plot in the Women's Land Trust for the offense of having had a baby boy; and that boy, Perley, who is being raised to be friends with snakes and an enemy to all things modern. What unfolds as this band of iconoclasts bumps up against the world around them is inevitable, if not unpredictable, but ffitch deftly explores the struggle it can be to stand up for what you believe in, and to fight for what you know is yours.
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn (available here)

There is a degree of sacrifice that is inherent to being a mother, even if there is no singular form that sacrifice takes — the larger point is that mothers need to make choices; from the moment they first choose to become mothers, they're making choice after choice, not all of them easy, some of them impossible. Such is the case with the titular character in Nicole Dennis-Benn's vivid, moving novel. When Patsy leaves her young daughter behind in Jamaica to pursue a decently paying job — and a long-lost love who was also her best friend — in New York City, she has to reimagine the kind of woman she is, and the kind of mother she can be. There are no easy answers for Patsy, no simple resolution to how to retain a sense of yourself and also be a mother, but Dennis-Benn grapples with these complex questions in an illuminating, tender way, leaving room for hope, even amid all the pain.
The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt (available here)

In one sense, it might be somewhat passive-aggressive for you to give this novel to your mother, because unless she taught you to read and speak Ancient Greek and Japanese before you were 10, your offering of this book might be implying that she somehow didn't care enough to ensure that you too were a prodigy, like The Last Samurai's young Ludo. In another sense, passive-aggressiveness is many a mother's love language, so who cares if that's the reason you introduce her to this cult classic novel, which introduces readers to the highly unorthodox single mother Sibylla, who watches Kurosawa with her son, refuses to tell him his father's name, and thus inadvertently sends him on a journey of his own to find his true father.
Divide Me By Zero by Lara Vapnyar (available here)

This riotously funny, savagely frank novel is a love letter of sorts, from a daughter to a mother, and told not just through words, but also through math. It would be fair to say that Katya's life is falling apart: She's getting a divorce, raising two kids, lost the love of her life, and her mother is dying. But while this book goes to many dark places, and is unafraid to examine closely the ugliest parts of grief and loss, it also explores those moments of beauty and crystal-clear revelation that come with the understanding that you can only feel grief if you've really loved, you can only feel loss if you had something worth missing.
So We Can Glow by Leesa Cross-Smith (available here)

The 42 stories that comprise this book are all vivid, vibrant glimpses into the lives of women, from teenagers to mothers to everything in between. Leesa Cross-Smith has a singular gift for adding sparkle to even the most quotidian of interactions, and her love for her characters is evident in the way she celebrates them in all their complexities as desirous, intense, cerebral, and sensual beings. A pure delight, and one any mother is sure to be thrilled to have.
The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe (available here)

Okay, this book is the only one on the list that doesn't really have anything to do with mothers, but that shouldn't stop you from giving it to yours this Mother's Day, because it's one of the most piercing, accurate portrayals of what it means to be a teenager, and figuring out who you are in the world that I've ever come across. Set in Southern California in the 2010s (so, actually, this might be perfect to give to your mom, so she can understand what it was like to be you?), The Knockout Queen follows the unlikely friendship of Bunny and Michael, two high schoolers who have totally different reasons for feeling like they don't fit into their school — or, like, their own bodies — at all. Thorpe's ability to capture the ways in which we manifest psychic pain in physical ways is uncanny, and the end result is a coming-of-age novel that is unsettling and resonant in all the most important ways.



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Here Are The Best Books To Give For Mother’s Day This Year Here Are The Best Books To Give For Mother’s Day This Year Reviewed by streakoggi on May 01, 2020 Rating: 5

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